Donald Trump stands on the Truman Balcony after returning to the White House from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center | McNamee/Getty Images via Bloomberg
Donald Trump stands on the Truman Balcony of the White House | McNamee/Getty Images via Bloomberg
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Four years after his shock victory, U.S. President Donald Trump seems to be running on empty. Opinion polls predict a win for former Vice President Joe Biden. In some Democratic circles, the word “landslide” is being jubilantly whispered.

It seems that Trump is finally being judged on his performance, especially his calamitous response to the coronavirus pandemic. His Republican colleagues have begun to recoil from him. The president himself, already complaining about rigged elections, seems to be expecting defeat.

And it is too late for him to learn from two of his fellow elected autocrats and demagogues — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who continue to win elections despite presiding over multiple political and economic disasters.

Two self-proclaimed outsiders to the political system, Erdogan and Modi also rose to political power on the back of anger and disaffection with the establishments in their respective countries.

Railing against the corruption and nepotism of local elites, they endeared themselves to numerous left-behinds. Like Trump, they connected with the lived experience of millions of people — the feeling of being scorned as well as excluded by establishment politicians and the mainstream media.

The biggest asset all three leaders had was this acute sense of reality. It allowed them to renew visions of national greatness, asserting that these could be realized once the old elites had been effectively sidelined.

Unlike Trump, however, Modi and Erdogan have diversified their means of self-perpetuation.

For one, they have been far more successful than the U.S. president in forging new realities for their audiences through conspiracy theories and fake news, which has helped them avoid crushing judgment on their performances.

They not only mastered digital technology and social media, they’ve managed to control the legacy media through a regime of intimidation that has silenced and marginalized critics.

Though successful in packing the Supreme Court, and assured of stalwart support from Fox News, Trump could not begin to imitate Modi and Erdogan’s long march through national institutions, from the education system and television channels to the military.

Even Republicans rallied relatively late around Trump. Modi and Erdogan have long had dedicated ideological cadres working for them.

One sign of their success is that Modi even managed to benefit electorally from demonetization — his shock withdrawal from circulation of nearly all currency notes, which broke the back of the Indian economy long before the pandemic.

Having effectively created a whole new world of feeling and thinking, Modi convinced enough Indians that he had done the right thing in his pursuit of rich and corrupt elites. Though guilty of a botched lockdown in the early days of the pandemic, Modi’s Hindu nationalist regime more recently dodged responsibility by blaming the virus on the handiwork of “corona-jihadists.”

To the victims of his blunders, Modi invokes the Hindu value of sacrifice, arguing that pain and privation are the price individuals pay for national greatness. Erdogan’s persona as a faithful Muslim similarly helps many devout Turks identify with him.

Trump confronts defeat partly because he can neither draw upon a spiritual and ethical tradition (as distinct from QAnon), nor appeal any longer to enlightened self-interest.

He loudly denounces China and rails against “cultural Marxists.” But menacing images of the internal and external enemy, indispensable to any demagogue, don’t seem to have become electorally consequential outside Trump’s base of white voters without college degrees.

Moreover, this base has shrunk in four years, part of a long-term demographic decline, and Trump has conspicuously failed to reach out to an expanding and politically significant demographic: minorities and college-educated white voters.

In that sense, Modi and Erdogan appear to have mastered the art of the deal better than Trump, continuously shoring up their power with canny coalitions. Though an avowed Islamist, Erdogan is now allied with the secular and ultra-nationalist Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Modi has successfully expanded, often with the help of small regional parties and secular politicians, his influence in states where he previously had little presence.

Modi and Erdogan also continue to benefit from a fragmented opposition. Trump, on the other hand, has struggled against serious political and legal challenges right from the beginning of his term. With his manifold bungles, he has united a unique and formidable opposition against him, spanning several ethnic/racial groups and socio-economic classes, as well as ideologies ranging from the Green New Deal to the Lincoln Project.

The malign energies of the far right that Trump unleashed won’t fade quickly. But Nov. 3 is likely to expose the extraordinarily narrow and rickety platform on which this very stable genius perched for four years. –Bloomberg


Also read: Trump or Biden? Doesn’t matter to India-US ties as they’re in a full, strategic embrace


 

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34 Comments Share Your Views

34 COMMENTS

  1. who this guy the author? no mention of who he is. The print should stop publishing articles written by unknown nuts.

    • Mr Kasiviswanathan Krishnan : You bray:

      ” .. The print should stop publishing articles written by unknown nuts ..”

      Applying your logic, I think The Print should stop publishing comments written by unknown nuts.

  2. Author seems to be a self professed ultra secular, no wonder he is placing Erdogan and our beloved PM on the same seat. Pity for such poor level of journalism.

      • He did right thing by burning jihadis who burnt a train.Talk about godhra first before Gujarat communal riots,and he did the right think,sadly sickular craps won’t understand think

  3. The gutter crawlers have emerged. Pankaj Mishra has made a living by dishing out drain inspectors’ reports (MK Gandhi’s memorable phrase) to foreign media that butter his bread.

    • Ishan Goyal: That term “stable genius” was what Trump called himself. It was not created by the author.

      In fact, Trump became notorious for saying that and many questions were raised with regard to his mental health at that time.

  4. Author is betraying his opinion rather than stating reality on the ground.

    There is so much groundswell for trump, come Election Day, results will reflect that.

    The silent majority from heartland and hinterland is pro trump. These voters are the ones who are motivated to go to polling booths rather than being on facebook Instagram tik tok. Which is where the author is getting the notion of trump defeat.

    He will repeat Michigan and Pennsylvania and few more states leaning purple.

    Let’s wait and watch this author go to post truth on 3rd November.

  5. I had higher expectation from “The Print” that it wil provide more intellegent opinions, it seems to be attracting the same Urban naxal crowd you see in other places. Hopeless and discredited jounalism . There many newspapers which keep writing agaisnt Modi, so it is nonsense to say media is under BJP’s control.

  6. Trump will make america great again while deep state puppets like print whine. Times have changed and people have started seeing the truth.. Slimy perception molding tactics of yours wont work again.

  7. Nonsense has no end with these kind or writers. they think they are propounding some great theory, when infact they are writing dustbin stuff. some of modi’s economic policies are questionable, but i would take his leadership any day rather than a confused hypocritical opposition. to say that a lockdown for covid was ill made decision, the writer firstly has a benefit of hindsight, and cannot judge properly, for there’s nothing wrong and right about that decision. it was made as per the requirement of the day. the only major flaw in his admin is the over eagerness of the fringe groups and the unneccasary control being exercised over media. you seem to just write to vent your frustration more than anything else.

  8. “Demonetization broke the economy”, “Demonetization was a failure”. If so, then how come the Modi Government managed to double the tax collection within 5 years of its term?? Did the failed economists pay all those taxes??

  9. Typical modi haters.. freely ranting their biases.. and still complaining that modi has marginalized critics.. what a paradox.. Sorry Mr. biased left-leaning journalist..

  10. Trump headed for defeat ?
    When will the media ever learn ?
    The media conveniently forgets that it’s not the popular vote that wins you the US Election but the electoral college as 2016 election clearly showed. Biden might very well be leading in national polls but that’s irrelevant. The point is the polls in the battleground states are very competitive so Donald Trump headed for defeat is very premature. More objective reporting is needed.

  11. Actually there is media in US that is against Trump and in india and Turkish media is now subservient to the masters that is one difference. Second US people don’t care about a religion unlike India or Turks so trump cannot pull in votes in name of Christ.

  12. Actually there is media in that is against Trump in india and Turkish media is now subservient to the masters that is one difference. Second US people don’t care about a religion unlike India or Turks so you can pull in votes in name of Christ.

  13. Trump is unique character. Comparing him anybody else will be like comparing apply to orange! Trump is classic example of narcissistic leadership. A narcissist will virtually always be rejected by others. The narcissist doesn’t have any leadership qualities. He thinks about himself excessively often, not about the public interest, not about the collective. And they always overestimate themselves. That’s what Trump is doing too: overestimating himself.”

  14. With people like Mr. Pankaj Mishra around there is no need for Imran Khan and other Islamists to defame and denigrate India. Our own people are more than capable to do so.

    • Ms Swagata Singh: Since when did criticism of pracharak-cum-pogromwala Modi become criticism of India? And should politicians not be criticised but worshipped like you and your Hindutva ilk do? It is a pity that educated people would willingly vote to dismantle democracy and usher in an elected dictator who peddles an agenda of hate. And worse still, regard this deeply flawed, divisive RSS man as an emblem of India.

      Indeed, you remind me of that fawning sycophant D.K.Barooah of the Congress Party who once said of then PM Indira Gandhi:

      “India is Indira. Indira is India”

      No wonder Modi is regarded as a latter day Indira Gandhi who has ushered in something that can be described as an undeclared Emergency.

      • Kili,
        What facts do u ahve to support the “progromwala” nickname? Are u better than the Indian Judicial system? English educated elites like you will never understand a man who sacrificed his personal life for Bharath Mata. U only deserve a dynasty steeped in corruption …

        • Mr Ravi: Thanks for the reply.

          You ask whether I am better than the Indian judicial system. I have a law degree but do not practise law but I guess I am fairly well placed to answer your question. In India, the judiciary, like the police and investigative agencies is not independent.

          Bu I have a counter-question to you :

          Are you so naïve as to believe that in the Indian judicial system, everyone is equal under the law ?

          Do you for a moment believe that the Indian judiciary would treat Ms Bilkis Bano, the pregnant 19 year old Muslim woman who was gangraped by your VHP and Bajrang Dal friends in the same manner as her Hindu rapists, leave alone the likes of powerful politicians like Narendra Modi? Well, here is what happened to Ms Bano: She was gangraped, she lost her unborn baby, her toddler’s head was smashed in front of her eyes, all female members of her family were raped and killed, including her cousin and the 1 day old infant the cousin had delivered the day before. Ms Bano could not register a FIR, she was threatened by the police, hounded and had to live in hiding. Her trial was shifted from Gujarat to Maharashtra due to the death threats she received. Nearly 17 years later, the Gujarat government was ordered by the Supreme Court to pay her Rs 50 lacs to Ms Bano – an amount she is yet to receive. Needless to say, she still lives in hiding.

          Take the case of the other 2 major RSS & Bajrang Dal figures who were participants in the Godhra pogroms of 2002 under the watch of then CM Modi.

          Babu Bajrangi, the butcher of Naroda Patiya is on record (ref: bit.ly/3kLd76i) bragging about how he set fire to Muslim women and children in Naroda Patiya. He was convicted, not due to police work but after a Tehelka sting. Bajrangi himself narrates how CM Modi helped him avoid prosecution initially by changing judges. Although convicted in 2012, the Supreme Court has now granted him bail.

          Likewise, Dr Mayaben Kodnani was accused of aiding arming her followers in the massacres at Naroda Patiya. She was rewarded with a Ministership in the CM Modi state government. Dr (!!) Kodnani was convicted in 2012 and received a life term. The judge was threatened and when CM Modi became PM Modi, Dr (!!) Kodnani was acquitted.

          In a similar manner, LK Advani, Uma Bharti, MM Joshi and 32 others who were accused in the unlawful Babri Masjid demolition case have now been acquitted by the Supreme Court. Clearly, there is one law for the richand powerful, especially Hindus and another for the poor and minorities like Muslims.

          So tell me Mr Ravi, if you were to be involved in litigation with say Amit Shah or even the local BJP MP, would you get justice in an Indian court ?

        • Mr Ravi: In case the gory description of how your friend Babu Bajrangi went about killing Muslims women, kids and babies doesn’t revolt, here comes a statement from one of the perpetrators of the barbaric attack on former Parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri at Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad:

          “.. recalled the killing:

          “Paanch-chheh jan pakad liye the, phir usko jaise pakad ke khada rakha phir logon mein se kisi ne talwar maari… haath kaate… haath kaat ke phir pair kaate… phir na sab kaat dala… phir tukde kar ke phir lakda jo lagaye thhe, lakde uspe rakh ke phir jala daala… zinda jala daala… (Five or six people held him, then someone struck him with a sword… chopped off his hand, then his legs… then everything else… after cutting him to pieces, they put him on the wood they’d piled and set it on fire… burnt him alive…”

          Tehelka sting, ref: bit.ly/2Jnac69

          So tell me Mr Ravi, has Ms Zakia Jafri, the widow of the late Ehsan Jafri received justice in the Indian judicial system?

  15. Autocrat, Demagogue ,two words enough to understand that the writer is from the eco system which cannot accept Modi and finds relief in abusing him day in/day out.

    • Mr Ajay: But the terms “autocrat” and “demagogue” do accurately describe the pogromwala don’t they Mr Ajay? You think Modi should be called “Gandhian”, “non-violent”, “tolerant” etc.?

      The BJP is a de facto one man show and that is something blinkered, blind bhakths like you do not comprehend. All decisions are taken by Modi, including in areas where he is unfit and unqualified to call the shots e.g. in economic policy or foreign policy. Demonetisation being one egregious example of rank economic mismanagement and economic hara-kiri that plunged a healthy economy tumbling down the hill. In the area of foreign policy, his cosying up to fellow megalomaniac Donald Trump is bound to have consequences when Trump is gone and Biden walks in. Indeed, on the foreign policy front, he attends meetings where he does not appear to comprehend many complex elements of global diplomacy and only reads from a prepared script.

      Of course, I do not expect bhakths like you to read the writing on the wall. For your ilk, Modi is the Messiah who can do no wrong even though on almost every economic and social indicator, the country is in dire straits.

      PATHETIC Mr AJAY !

  16. This could not be but the rantings of a typical left-liberati……Calling names of those who are opposed to their world view…. i am sure he would rather have nice things to say about the real ideoligical demagogues of like Xi jing Ping of China, Joao Lorenco, of Angola, Lukashenko of Belarus etc etc… the list is quite long…. Well these are the kindest gentlemen of the world…i am sure the writer would love to be in those countries…

  17. BJP’s government has taken decisions to ensure food and medical security during covid19 pandemic

    BJP’S government has ensured a hybrid attack internally by pakistani deep state and chinese deep state in form of anti CAA protest and RIOTING later was dealt with by strictly.

    Jihadists and proselytizers using NGO’S as a facade have been increasingly dismantled.

    While TRUMP a maverick and unstable leader was dealt with by in a smart way by MODIJI.

    Turkish madman erdogan is destroying his country by his jihadist agenda.

    Mental illness is a reason for comparison of TRUMP and ERDOGAN with MODIJI as similar leaders.

  18. This human debris belongs to the fascist comgi-commy cult that captured all levers of power in India and went about a cultural genocide against Hindus, impoverished the nation in pursuit of silly ideologies and naked power, and went about dividing and breaking India systematically. This guy and his ilk are like termites, eating away India’s soul from the inside. The day is not far when internal enemies like him will be weeded out without any mercy.

  19. The biggest reason Modi is successful is because he is backed by Hindus who make up 70%+ of the Indian population. Erdogan is using his religion in turkey too. Trump is also using the evangelical Christians but they do not make a majority in the USA. If they did, he would win in a landslide. Luckily the US is more diverse.

  20. Interesting to see how so many people baselessly call India’s lockdown botched up. It wasn’t. Data itself proves that. But don’t let facts come in the way of your opinion.

  21. Pankaj Mishra is right in saying that Modi has successfully made a stooge of the media in India. Here is a list of major news outlets that have been Modi supporters and spread Modi’s word: The Print, The Wire, Scroll, Hindu, Indian Express, Mirror…..

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